Dmitry Shostakovich

Preludes & Fugues (24), for piano, Op. 87

    Description by James Leonard

    Just back from a trip to Leipzig in the early autumn of 1950 where he heard Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier at the Bicentennial Bach Competition played by the Russian pianist Tatiana Nikolaeva, Shostakovich began his own series of 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87, based on Bach's model. He composed them quickly, starting on October 10, 1950, and finishing on February 23, 1951.

    While his work would pay homage to Bach, Shostakovich's work would have several fundamental differences. First, the order of the individual pieces would be organized around the circle of fifths with a prelude and fugue in the relative minor following each major key piece rather than in ascending semi-tonal order of Bach's work. Second, Shostakovich's pieces would be composed in order -- that is, C major - A minor followed by G major - E minor followed by D major - B minor -- and, more significantly, this order would have a sort of subliminal narrative sub-text, taking the music from the "innocent" tonal world of the C major Prelude and Fugue to the profound and sublime severity of the concluding D minor Prelude and Fugue. Finally, Shostakovich's work, although conservative in its counterpoint and harmony -- that is, there are no examples of invertible or reversible themes or counterpoint and the pieces are for the most part recognizably tonal in language -- is still clearly the work of a modernist composer; his counterpoint and harmony may be conservative but the emotional and spiritual worlds of the preludes and fugues is at once sincere and ironic. The result is a work which can not only stand comparison with Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, it is both Shostakovich's masterpiece for the piano and one of the contrapuntal masterpieces of the twentieth century.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Prelude. Moderato
    2. Fugue. Moderato (4 voices)
    3. Prelude. Allegro
    4. Fugue. Allegretto (3 voices)
    5. Prelude. Moderato non troppo
    6. Fugue. Allegro molto (3 voices)
    7. Prelude. Andante
    8. Fugue. Adagio (4 voices)
    9. Prelude. Allegretto
    10. Fugue. Allegretto (3 voices)
    11. Prelude. Allegretto
    12. Fugue. Moderato (4 voices)
    13. Prelude. Allegro poco moderato
    14. Fugue. Allegretto (3 voices)
    15. Prelude. Allegretto
    16. Fugue. Andante (3 voices)
    17. Prelude. Moderato non troppo
    18. Fugue. Allegro (2 voices)
    19. Prelude. Allegro
    20. Fugue. Moderato (4 voices)
    21. Prelude. Allegro
    22. Fugue. Allegro (3 voices)
    23. Prelude. Andante
    24. Fugue. Allegro (4 voices)
    25. Prelude. Moderato con moto
    26. Fugue. Adagio (5 voices)
    27. Prelude. Adagio
    28. Fugue. Allegro non troppo (3 voices)
    29. Prelude. Allegretto
    30. Fugue. Allegro molto (4 voices)
    31. Prelude. Andante
    32. Fugue. Adagio (3 voices)
    33. Prelude. Allegretto
    34. Fugue. Allegretto (4 voices)
    35. Prelude. Moderato
    36. Fugue. Moderato con moto (4 voices)
    37. Prelude. Allegretto
    38. Fugue. Moderato con moto (3 voices)
    39. Prelude. Adagio
    40. Fugue. Moderato (4 voices)
    41. Prelude. Allegro
    42. Fugue. Allegro non troppo (3 voices)
    43. Prelude. Moderato non troppo
    44. Fugue. Moderato (4 voices)
    45. Prelude. Adagio
    46. Fugue. Moderato con moto (3 voices)
    47. Prelude. Andante
    48. Fugue. Moderato (4 voices)

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Signum Classics SIGCD 396
    2016 Melodiya MELCD 1002312
    2015 Roméo Records / Romeo Records RR 7315/16
    2015 Alto / Musical Concepts MCSCD 2507
    2014 Melodiya MELCD 1002269
    2014 Harmonia Mundi HMC 972201920
    2012 Piano Classics PCLM 0028
    2011 Oxford Phil / Oxford Philomusica OP 0067
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099962951128
    2010 2L 63
    2010 Celestial Harmonies 13302
    2010 Doremi Records 7991
    2010 Harmonia Mundi 902019
    2009 Haenssler 98530
    2008 Universal Classics & Jazz
    2008 ATMA Classique 22555
    2008 Centaur Records 2896/2
    2008 Medici Arts 3085248
    2007 Regis Records 3005
    2007 Brilliant 8463
    2007 Stradivarius 33763
    2006 Decca 475 7425DC5
    2006 Decca
    2001 Naxos 554745-46
    2000 ECM / Universal
    1999 Decca 466066
    1994 Melodiya 613
    1994 ECM New Series / ECM / Universal Distribution 4371892
    1994 Dynamic 117/1-3
    1991 Hyperion 66441
    Accord 202032
    Dynamic 117